Thanks to my new blogging friend Frances (on http://francesgarrood.blogspot.com/), I've just discovered how to see the stats on my blog - you know, all the stuff about how many hits you get, and when, and where they're coming from. I know, I know - you'd think it was obvious, wouldn't you: there's a big tab there with 'Stats' on it, but needless to say, I'd managed not to see that and had to be directed to it! I did know how to look at the stats for my websites (I've got two: one for Olivia and one in my own name), but I actually think the Blogger stats are more comprehensive. So I've now spent a silly amount of time studying them when I should have been doing other things (you know how it goes!) - and I'm fascinated by what I've seen.
For instance: obviously most of my hits are coming from the UK - cheers, mates! And after that comes the USA - thanks, guys! (waves!). And third in the list is Russia, and then Holland - both countries where I've had translations published so it does give me a nice feeling to think that there might be people in those countries reading my books in their own languages and bothering to look me up. Germany features too, where one of my newest translations has just been published - but also France, Ukraine, and several other countries where I'm not aware of any of my books appearing.
But of course, there are lots of other reasons for people finding, and looking at, a blog or website - and I'm not so vain that I don't realise most of these hits are probably accidental. One of my websites' stats-page gives the phrases people have put into their browsers when they end up on my site - and often they have only a very tenuous connection to me or one of my books. For instance, I've had a lot of hits on the Olivia website from people planning hen weekends, weddings or honeymoons - something to think about when you choose a book title, perhaps! I always imagine them sighing with impatience when they see that they've landed on an author's website instead of what they were searching for, and clicking straight back to their search again!
I've also been told that some of the hits are from marketing companies looking at websites to see if they're worth targeting. And I know, too, that the name Olivia is very popular now (which is why my editor and I chose it, of course!) and people will inevitably be stumbling upon me when they're looking for other, younger, prettier, maybe new-born Olivia Ryans! Sorry about that!
I'm always thrilled when I receive e-mails, or messages via my websites, from genuine fans who are contacting me to say they've enjoyed one of my books or short stories. I think we authors often suffer from insecurity about our work (not surprising, when the odds are stacked so highly against us and we tend to get rejections like other people get hot dinners!) - and personally, even knowing someone is actually out there reading something I've written makes me feel a whole lot better. The thrill of fan mail from overseas can't be overstated - I've had readers contact me from India, for instance, as well as the States, Australia and various European countries. Taking the trouble to contact an author is such a huge compliment - now that I know how it feels, I sometimes do it myself when I've particularly enjoyed a book.
So - as Frances said on her own blog about her hits - I'd love to know who all these mysterious people are, who 'hit' my blog. Of course, we realise that not everyone wants to become a 'follower', or wants to leave comments - but I'd love to know if any of them are actually reading the posts, or whether they're all just accidental hits. In the absence of any proof to the contrary - I'll choose to imagine them all hanging on my every word, even those from South Korea and Slovenia. I know I'm probably fooling myself but ... well, it does my self-esteem a power of good!